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On May 7, the District 65 School Board voted to make three changes to the criteria that will be used to select students to Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies and King Arts Magnet School.
The first change gives students who have a sibling at Bessie Rhodes a priority over all other students. The change adds this sentence to Board Policy 7:32: “When selecting students for admission to Dr. Bessie Rhodes Magnet School siblings of students currently enrolled in the school will be selected prior to selection of any other students.”
This change was proposed in light of the School Board’s decision to convert Bessie Rhodes into a Two-Way Immersion School beginning in the 2018-19 school year. The conversion will take place on a phased-in basis, starting with kindergarten next year, and then adding one grade level year by year. The Board committed at the time that siblings of students who attended Bessie Rhodes would be ensured a spot at the school.
The second change relates to the criteria that establishes preference areas for King Arts and Bessie Rhodes. The preference area for King Arts is the area bounded by McCormick Boulevard, Church Street, Dodge Avenue and Dempster Street.
The preference area for Bessie Rhodes is for students who reside in the Kingsley, Lincolnwood and Willard School attendance areas and who reside east of McCormick Boulevard and north of Church Street.
Under the current policy, 20% of new admissions to King Arts are allocated to students in the King Arts preference area, and 20% of the new admissions to the Bessie Rhodes are allocated to students in the Bessie Rhodes preference area. These preference areas were established in the mid-1990s in recognition that students residing in these preference areas lacked a neighborhood school.
The change leaves the current preferences intact, but adds a provision that in the event 20% of the admissions to King Arts are not filled up with students in the King Arts preference area, students in the Bessie Rhodes preference area would get a preference with respect to the remaining slots in the 20% calculation.
Similarly, students in the King Arts preference area would get a preference to fill any remaining slots at Bessie Rhodes under the 20% calculation that are not filled by students in the Bessie Rhodes preference area.
The change approved by the Board differs from the change recommended by the Policy Committee. Board member Candance Chow pointed out that the change recommended by the Policy Committee might end up diluting the chances of students in the King Arts preference area being admitted to King Arts and the chances of students in the Bessie Rhodes preference area being admitted to Bessie Rhodes. She said parents in those preference areas were not notified of the proposed change and did not have an opportunity to comment.
The change approved by the Board preserves the current preferences provided to students in these areas, and provides them an additional preference.
The third change would add the following paragraph to the policy: “The Superintendent may also establish criteria for selection of magnet programs in grades 1-5 for students transferring into District 65.”